ISSUES IN FOCUS
Week of July 26, 1998
CREATE A MONSTER, THEN "RESCUE" ITS VICTIMS
Statism’s advance in America has followed a clear pattern—a formula which has been enormously successful for statist politicians: create a problem through mandates and/or regulations, blame the problem on freedom, then use the problem to justify even more restrictions on freedom. These new restrictions and regulations create more problems, which bring new calls for even more restrictions—and on and on, ad infinitum.
Historically, this pattern is clear in the case of health care, yet most Americans appear to be ignorant of the process by which physicians and health-care providers have become increasingly regimented and controlled by the state.
The first, major step toward the state’s takeover of medicine arrived with the enactment of the Medicare Act of 1964, bringing widespread regulation of physicians and hospitals. The next, major step was the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973, which mandated the creation of 50 HMO’s, provided millions of dollars in grants and subsidies, as well as loan guarantees, to these newly-created HMO’s and provided immunity from lawsuits. In the years since 1973, there have been dozens upon dozens of legislative acts purportedly designed to correct problems in so-called managed care, problems which were the creation of earlier legislation.
To help camouflage the fact that the problems of managed care have been caused by statist legislative actions, statists cleverly left the ostensible ownership of managed-care organizations in the hands of private individuals. However, since these organizations have been created out of government mandate, subsidized and regulated by the state, they are, in fact, effectively government agencies hiding behind front men posing as private owners.
To understand the statist tactic of creating a monster and then pretending to "rescue" the victims, let’s replicate, in principle, this statist approach to food. After all, statists will claim that the "right" to food is even more important than the "right" to health care. All individuals need food to live. Not all individuals need medical care in order to live.
The first step is to enact the Food Maintenance Organization Act of 1998. This Act will mandate the creation of 50 FMO’s which will be required to provide food to their members for a flat monthly fee, with no limit on the consumption of food by a member. FMO’s will be required to service their members through restaurants and grocery outlets. The Act will also provide billions of dollars in subsidies, grants and loan guarantees and grant immunity from lawsuits. In order to encourage large numbers to enroll in FMO’s, the FMO Act will also mandate that monthly food premiums will be tax deductible to businesses.
Now consider how this will work. With the appearance of FMO’s, privately owned restaurants and grocery stores begin to lose customers in droves. In an effort to survive financially, many of these businesses rush to become acquired by one of the FMO’s. Others form their own alliances, Food Provider Organizations (FPO’S), in an effort to stop the loss of customers to the state-subsidized FMO’s. The independent restaurant and grocery store owner is driven out of business. Everyone is herded into groups.
In the meantime, the FMO’s are in crisis. Swamped by hordes of members, with no limit on food consumption, the FMO’s are losing massive amounts of money. FMO executives appeal to Congress for the authority to contain costs and raise monthly food premiums and it is granted. There is only one way to contain costs: limit food consumption. At FMO restaurants, the most costly food items are taken off the menu and FMO grocery stores take high-cost products off the shelves. With each passing year, the food choices are increasingly limited. Since FMO’s do not have the incentive of a free market to provide quality and are immune to lawsuits, the quality of food and service slips dramatically. E. coli outbreaks become common at FMO restaurants, with dozens dying from contaminated food.
The problems of FMO’s soon reach another crisis. There are demands by frustrated FMO members for eater’s "rights," demands for new regulations of FMO’s to provide more food choices, to eliminate the E. coli problems and to make food more affordable. The evening news is full of FMO horror stories. Commentators call FMO’s the fleecing of America. Finally and fittingly, a Republican Congress passes an Eater’s Rights Bill, mandating that steak be put back on the menu at FMO restaurants and on the shelves of its grocery outlets, that various ethnic foods be made available and dictates that all FMO restaurants provide drive-through windows for emergency food service for those in a hurry. Voters, in overwhelming numbers, approve of these new, regulatory measures. Statist politicians hail the Act as a triumph for more freedom of choice in food.
And this, my reader, is how statists gradually destroy freedom. As long as most Americans continue to fall for this statist trick, America will eventually fall into the deathtrap of totalitarianism.
July 26, 1998
© Copyright 1998 Fulton Huxtable
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To read more by Fulton Huxtable, go to Fatal Blindness: America's Decades of Declining Freedom and The Rise of Its Dictators.
Read Fulton Huxtable's A
BILL OF GOODS. Patients' bill of "rights" will violate actual rights.
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